Your biggest fear
There are three main fears that often come up with clients –
Fear of failure (fear of things not working out, fear of making a mistake, fear of making the wrong decision, etc.)
Fear of other people’s opinions (fear of being laughed at, fear of people not understanding what you’re doing, fear of judgement, etc.)
Fear of not being good enough (aka “Who do I think I am?”)
After years of coaching clients through these different fears, I’ve learned that there’s an underlying fear behind all of them –
The fear of the unknown.
Not knowing if it will work out…
Not knowing how people would react…
Not knowing if you’d actually be able to do it…
All the fears above involve a ‘what if’, a concern about something that might or might not happen.
It’s the NOT KNOWING that scares us the most.
Last Tuesday, I facilitated a mindset workshop as part of the Agents of Change Conference for the Women at Leeds network at Leeds University. I talked about how we hold ourselves back and underplay ourselves and the tools we can use to overcome that so we can bring more of ourselves into the world. Towards the end of the workshop, one of the women asked: “How do we know that we’re doing the right thing, that we are not going to regret it?” This is a common concern among those who are going through transitions, and it’s one that I’ve experienced myself through the many transitions I have gone through. This was my response – We don’t know. After confirming that there is no one in the audience that’s able to predict the future, I’ve made the point that we simply can’t know. There is no way to predict how a decision or an action will unfold. Likewise, we can’t know how staying in the same place (aka not making any decision) will unfold either. To be human is to be uncertain. But, this is what I know for sure –
While we don’t know how things will unfold, I am certain that what we’ll definitely regret is not trying at all
Regret is not mandatory. Even if things don’t work out, regret is a choice. We can be grateful for betting on ourselves, for taking risks, for being bold, for doing things even with the presence of self-doubt
We can choose to see the missteps as lessons, as another step towards a desired outcome – we ‘fail’, we learn, we pivot, we try again…
With life and career transitions, there are no guarantees. There will always be some risk involved. And the part of our brain that is wired for safety doesn’t like that. For that part of our brain, taking a risk means we can be eaten by a lion for lunch. It doesn’t know the difference between a real life-threatening situation and you just wanting to make a change in your life.
Here’s the thing –
The only way to make something feel more certain is to step into action. By taking small steps forward, we realise that there’s little to fear from uncertainty. In fact, if we move forward, take small risks, and come to see that the world doesn’t end, we learn a valuable lesson about ourselves. We learn that we can cope. This then helps reassure ourselves that we can manage the next step, too, and on it goes.
The truth is, we have a choice as to how to see uncertainty. We can see it as a threat, or as a learning opportunity. We can cling to the idea that everything must work out (not helpful, nor realistic, as life is full of curveballs), or we can hope and wonder what will happen (much less attached to outcomes and therefore a less stressful approach to life), safe in the knowledge that we can cope whatever the outcome.
By accepting that nothing is certain in life, we can embrace uncertainty and see it as the norm, presenting possibility and opportunity in every curve ball that life throws.
Whatever happens, we’ll be OK.
Rooting for you,